Last week, we posted “Trucking and Your Back – A Painful Combination.” In that post, we highlighted how common back injuries are in the trucking industry. Back injuries account for over 37% of all musculoskeletal injuries in truck drivers. In this week’s post, we share some tips, tricks, and resources to help truckers avoid these painful and debilitating injuries.
We all heard this growing up: “Sit up straight. Don’t slouch.” As it turns out, this is good advice. Slouching is very stressful on your back. It weakens your back muscles and causes a slow degeneration of the discs between your vertebrae, which can cause herniated or slipped disks. Poor posture can also impinge nerves and cause pain in other places such as the legs.
To improve posture, move your hips all the way to the back of the seat. Lean slightly back to a comfortable position. If the back of the chair is rounded, place a small cushion in the space created between your lower back and the chair. This will cause a healthy sitting position and prevent you from curving your back to the shape of the chair.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD SEAT AND ADJUST THE SETTINGS IN YOUR CAB
A good seat is important to improve posture and prevent injuries. The positives, negatives, and features of the various seats on the market are discussed in many on-line articles, including this article by Land Line Magazine. Do your research and make sure you have a seat that works for you.
Once you have the right seat, make sure the settings in your cab are adjusted to fit you. This will reduce stress on your back and neck. Most cabs were designed for a 6 feet tall driver. Taller and shorter drivers may need to make adjustments to the standard cab settings. EHS Today has reported on a 2009 study showing that truckers that were taller and shorter than average suffered musculoskeletal injuries at a higher rate than average sized truckers. Make sure you customize your cab to fit you.
GET OUT AND STRETCH
Muscles need to be stretched before use. Simple stretches can prevent injury. For example, place one foot on the step of the truck while stretching the back leg in a lunge position. Bend the front knee and push the hip forward, hold for 20 seconds, and repeat with the opposite leg. Touching your toes or bending backwards with your hands on your hips will also help to stretch tight back muscles. Gently rotating the head from side to side and front to back a few times can relieve tension that builds up in neck muscles.
EXERCISE AND EAT RIGHT
The largest single contributor to back injuries is lack of exercise and poor diet. Exercising on the road can be difficult, but is very important for your health. You do not need a gym to exercise. Simply raising your heart rate by walking for 30 to 40 minutes every day can have a positive impact on your health and reduce your risk of back injuries.
There are many good resources on the internet for trucker’s health. Here are some examples:
Ride & Roll – Provides trucker friendly bike riding trails.
Healthy Trucking Association of America – Association devoted to promoting a healthy trucking industry.
Stay Fit – TA and Petro resource that provides combination of nutritious food and exercise options.
On-The-Road Workout – Provides road, friendly workout routine.
Trucker Health Blog – A blog devoted to trucker exercise and healthy eating.
Livestrong Healthy Eating for Truckers – Guide for eating healthy on-the-road.
We hope these tips, tricks, and resources help you avoid back injuries. But, if you are a trucker with a back injury, give us a call at 855-4-HURT-TRUCKER (855-448-7887), or reach out to us in the comment area below, on email at [email protected], or on Facebook or Twitter. We may be able to help. We have a team of health care professionals who are used to caring for injured truckers and have the expertise to determine the cause of back injuries, even when the cause of the injury is not obvious from diagnostic tests.